Bach’s busy spring of 1725

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Trade Fair traffic entering Leipzig, 1820s.

If you don’t feel like reading a long blog post and just want to learn about this Sunday’s cantatas, please watch Rudolf Lutz’ wonderful lecture/improvisation from 2020 about Cantata 44 and 183 here. It is in English. Find my blog post about these same cantatas, highlighting completely different aspects of the pieces, here.

We tend to think that Christmas was the busiest time for Bach in Leipzig, writing cantatas for the three (!) Christmas Days, New Year’s Day, Epiphany, AND all the Sundays that fell in between those days. On the holidays, he would often perform the cantatas twice, once in the St. Nicholas Church, and once in the St. Thomas Church.

While working like this for two weeks in a row does sound crazy to us, we can still relate to it, because the Christmas season is often busy for most of us too.

But especially because of this wanting or needing to relate, I think we often forget that there was another period in the year for Bach in Leipzig that was equally busy: the time from Easter to Trinity. It was perhaps not as non-stop as the Christmas season, but it was much longer in time, and more laden with decision-making, so possibly more draining for the composer. We don’t know.

I would like to go back to my posts from the spring of 2018, when I was following Bach’s writing in the spring of 1725. Going forward, this year, I would like to keep following his cantata compositions from 1725. So let’s look at what this possibly exhausting period looked like for Bach in 1725. All the links in this following list refer to my own blog posts from 2018. The Easter Oratorio was rewritten from a previous work, but every single cantata Bach wrote after that was newly composed that year, 1725.

March 30, Good Friday: The second version of the St. John Passion, with a new opening chorus and several new arias.

April 1, Easter Sunday: First performance of the Easter Oratorio as well as a repeat performance of Cantata 4 Christ lag in Todesbanden (written much earlier in his career)

April 2, Easter Monday: Cantata 6 Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden

April 8, First Sunday after Easter: Cantata 42 Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats

April 15, Second Sunday after Easter: Cantata 85 Ich bin ein guter Hirt

April 22, Third Sunday after Easter: Cantata 103 Ihr werdet weinen und heulen

This Third Sunday after Easter, or “Jubilate” Sunday, was also the start of a three-week-long Trade Fair in Leipzig, lasting until Exaudi Sunday (this Sunday). Leipzig had three such events each year (the others were at Michaelmas and at New Year’s). In the 18th century Leipzig had become the centre for trade with Russia, Poland, and England. During the fairs the population of the city would grow to 30,000. Bach did business himself too during these times. He for example timed the publication of his Clavierübung to coincide with these fairs. In addition to that, I imagine that he would have had visitors in his house, and that he was making time to meet with friends and colleagues who were in town during this time.

April 29: Cantata 108 Es ist euch gut, daß ich hingehe

May 6: Cantata 87 Bisher habt ihr nichts gebeten in meinem Namen

May 10, Ascension Day: Cantata 128 Auf Christi Himmelfahrt allein

May 13: Exaudi Sunday (this current Sunday): Cantata 183 Sie werden euch in den Bann tun

May 20, Pentecost / Whit Sunday: Cantata 74 Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten

May 21, Pentecost Monday / Whit Monday: Cantata 68 Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt

May 22, Pentecost Tuesday / Whit Tuesday: Cantata 175 Er rufet seinen Schafen mit Namen

May 27, Trinity Sunday: Cantata 176 Es ist ein trotzig und verzagt Ding

Wieneke Gorter, May 15, 2021

Bach’s Music for Ascension Day

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The Ascension, from the illuminated 15th-century manuscript Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, Folio 184r – Musée Condé, Chantilly, France.

Today was Ascension Day. In Bach’s time this was a very important holiday in the churches. Many countries in Europe have a four-day weekend starting on this Thursday. I did too as a kid growing up in the Netherlands. But we didn’t go to church on this day, and I don’t remember my mother playing the Ascension cantatas or the Ascension Oratorio on the turntable at home on this day. Instead we went for a bike ride, visit grandparents, or go camping. I didn’t know Bach’s music for Ascension Day at all until we performed BWV 11 and 43 with California Bach Society in the early 2000s. The choruses from these compositions are among the most fun I have every sung in a choir. I love the syncopated rhythms.

Here is an overview of Bach’s music for Ascension Day, as far as we know, in order of creation:

In 1724, Bach wrote Cantata 37 Wer da gläubet und getäuft wird (Whoever believes and is baptised). Listen to it here. Soloists in this recording by Ton Koopman/Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra are Sibylla Rubens, soprano; Bernhard Landauer, alto; Christoph Prégardien, tenor; and Klaus Mertens, bass.

In 1725, as part of the series of cantatas on texts by Christiane Mariane von Ziegler, Bach wrote Cantata 128 Auf Christi Himmelfahrt allein (On Christ’s ascension alone). Listen to it here. Soloists on this live recording by John Eliot Gardiner/English Baroque Soloists are Lenneke Ruiten, soprano; Meg Bragle, mezzo soprano; Andrew Tortise, tenor; and Dietrich Henschel, bass. Find my blog post from 2018 about this cantata, which includes a different recording by Gardiner here.

The last Bach cantata we have for this holiday is from 1726: Cantata 43 Gott fähret auf mit Jauchzen (God ascends with shouts of joy). Listen to it here. Soloists in this live recording by Rudolf Lutz/J.S. Bach Foundation are Miriam Feuersinger, soprano; Annekathrin Laabs, alto; Charles Daniels, tenor; and Wolf Matthias Friedrich, bass.

Nine years later, Bach wrote his Ascension Oratorio, BWV 11 Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen (Praise God in His kingdoms), incorrectly labeled as a cantata in the 19th century. Bach might have been inspired by the Christmas Oratorio he had written only five months before that.

On that Ascension Day, Thursday, May 19, 1735, this oratorio was performed in the morning service in the St. Nicholas Church, and again in the afternoon service in the St. Thomas Church. Watch the wonderful opening chorus here in a live performance by Philippe Herreweghe/Collegium Vocale Gent from 2014 from the Chapelle de la Trinité in Lyon, France. Or listen to the entire oratorio by Philippe Herreweghe/Collegium Vocale Gent on a CD recording from 1993 here. Soloists on that 1993 recording are Barbara Schlick, soprano; Catherine Patriasz, alto; Christoph Prégardien, tenor; and Peter Kooij, bass.

Wieneke Gorter, May 13, 2021.

Good Shepherd Sunday and Memories of visiting Ravenna

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The Good Shepherd, mosaic in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna, 1st half of the 5th century

In the early summer of 2018, my husband, my kids, and me had the good fortune to be able to visit Italy for the first time in our lives. When I was growing up, we usually went to France in the summer vacation, as was normal for families from the Netherlands. I did have Latin in high school, but our class was very small, and trips to Rome where not the norm at that school. In college, I had somehow missed the choir tour to Italy, and had “only” gone on the ones to Spain (three times) and Portugal. So it was a very special treat to me to finally be able to go to Italy, and see several of the art works in real life.

After three relaxing days in the mountains and three wonderful days in Venice, we traveled on to Ravenna. I had gone back and forth about including Ravenna in the itinerary. Would we want yet another stop? Was it worth it to have less time in Umbria as a result of the extra night in Ravenna?

In Venice, we had learned that visiting tourist attractions at 5 pm or later was the best way to avoid the busloads of tourists. So on the morning we left Venice, I emailed the guide in Ravenna I had been corresponding with in the weeks before that we might still want to visit the mosaics with her between 5 and 7 pm, if she was still free. If I could confirm after lunch time? She was fine with that. (Later we learned that the busiest time for the tour guides in Ravenna is the school year, when all the Italian kids come to learn about this important time and place in Italian (art) history, and that most of them are more flexible in the summer).

At 10:30 am, we did a reverse commute on the ferry from the Zattere in Venice’s Dorsoduro neighborhood to Fusina on the mainland, where our rental car had been parked for three nights. We drove to Chioggia and ate a delightful seafood lunch at a no-frills restaurant at the harbor there. Then we confirmed our time with the guide and drove the extremely boring road to Ravenna, still wondering if all this was worth it.

But our visit to the mosaics with the guide was one of the best and most peaceful experiences we had that entire vacation. There was no line at the ticket office, the mosaics were stunningly beautiful, the buildings practically empty that time of day, and our guide was extremely knowledgable and fun to be with (it was hard saying good-bye to her after the two hours). All four of us cherish our memories of that visit.

The most impressive monument to all of us was the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, because of how well preserved and vibrant the mosaics in that monument are. I had been using the mosaic of Jesus as “The Good Shepherd” already twice on this blog, and it was deeply moving to me to see it there in real life. So I’m featuring it again today.

Jesus as the Good Shepherd is the theme for this Second Sunday after Easter, and it appears in all three cantatas Bach wrote for this Sunday: BWV 104 from 1724, BWV 85 from 1725, and BWV 112 from 1731. I have yet to write about Cantata 112, but have written about Cantata 104 here in 2017, and about Cantata 85 here in 2016.

Wieneke Gorter, April 17, 2021.

Passion highlights and Easter links

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A little over 22 years ago, my husband and I moved from the Netherlands to California. My husband is a Jazz bass player in his spare time, so for him the music was another aspect to “living in Paradise.” There are many more Jazz performances and festivals here than in Europe, and there are lots of people here to do jam sessions with.

But for me it was a different story. I found a wonderful voice teacher and a good choir to sing in, but I missed the strong Dutch tradition of hearing and performing Bach’s Passions in the weeks before Easter. I used to have my biggest bouts of homesickness around that time of year. The heartache was softened only by it being my most favorite blooming season in California: the few weeks when two native trees, the purple Western Redbud (Cercis Occidentalis) and the blue-violet wild lilac (Ceanothus) bloom at the same time. The photos here don’t really capture how beautiful those colors are and how stunning it is when you see them together in the landscape, but it is something that makes me very happy.

Last year I didn’t have any homesickness, because all Passions in the Netherlands or Belgium I could have attended or participated in were canceled, so I didn’t feel I was missing anything. And while the world locked down, at the same time it became more accessible to me, because performances were now being moved to the internet. This meant I could watch the dress rehearsal of Herreweghe’s St. John Passion without the 11-hour plane ride or the struggle with jet lag. (That video registration is still available: find it here – scroll a bit down to where it says “Passions 2020”).

This year there were so many online St. Matthew or St. John Passion offerings from the Netherlands it was almost overwhelming. I didn’t have time to listen to all of them before writing this today, because most of the videos didn’t go live until yesterday, Good Friday. So I’ll just focus on a few that stood out to me.

Find the English translations of the St. John Passion here; the St. Matthew Passion here.

Cynthia Miller Freivogel

In the category “most interactive creation” I would like to mention the St. John Passion by Zing als vanZelf. An initiative of online singing instructor Bert van de Wetering, this organization invited thousands of singers to record themselves singing the chorales at home in the weeks leading up to Good Friday. They then recorded a performance with professional soloists singing the arias and the choruses with the excellent Combattimento Consort (Cynthia Miller Freivogel, concertmaster) as the orchestra, this all under the direction of Pieter Dirksen. Then they edited all this together into a video where you see the performance from a pretty church in a small town in the Netherlands, but every time there is a chorale you see the “choir” of individual volunteer singers pieced together on the screen. A really clever and touching solution. Watch it here. If you enjoy it, please consider making a donation, similar to what you would have paid if you would have attended this in person. The link for that is right there under the video.

Klaas Stok

For readers who understand Dutch and would like to learn more about the St. Matthew Passion, I highly recommend the video program from the organization that every year brings performances of this masterpiece to the beautiful Bergkerk in the city of Deventer. This year they recorded four arias from the St. Matthew Passion, in the order they appear in the second half of the work: “Erbarme dich” (sung by countertenor Maarten Engeltjes), “Aus Liebe” (sung by soprano Renate Arends), “Komm, süßes Kreuz” (sung by bass Florian Just), and “Mache dich, mein Herze, rein” (sung by bass Marc Pantus). What I liked best about this video is the conversations director Klaas Stok has with each soloist before they sing their aria. Through these conversations, I gained a lot of new insights into the meaning of the different arias. I especially loved what Klaas Stok had to say about the architecture of the piece, the role each aria plays in the overall structure, and how different movements are connected. Of all the talks, I particularly enjoyed bass Marc Pantus’ take on “Mache dich, mein Herze, rein,” the final aria on the program. You can watch this until April 14. Just click here. But please note, it is all in Dutch. Again, a link to donate is right there under the video.

Thomas Hobbs

Last but not least, the most impressive performance I listened to yesterday and today: The St. John Passion (1725 version) by the Netherlands Bach Society under the direction of René Jacobs. This was shown on Dutch television on Good Friday, so if you don’t understand Dutch, you’ll have to sit through a confusing excerpt from the St. Matthew Passion and a few ads at first, but then you can forward the video 14 minutes, to skip the pre-concert interview with René Jacobs. Soloists are Daniel Johannsen, tenor (Evangelist); Johannes Kammler, bass (Christ); Robin Johannsen, soprano; Alberto Miguélez Rouco, countertenor; Thomas Hobbs, tenor; and Arttu Kataja, bass. There is so much fluidity and phrasing in the orchestra, such a good blend in the choir, as well as excellent enunciation from the choir, it is extraordinary. All the choral movements are extremely transparent, I enjoyed that very much. Jacobs takes some risks with considerably slower tempi in the chorales than is usual in the Historical Performance Practice world, stretching out the pauses in the Evangelist’s recitatives, and taking long fermatas on ending notes, but it is never old-fashioned or too Romantic. It makes for a very engaging, one of a kind performance. All soloists are wonderful, but I would like to give a shout-out to the two tenors: Daniel Johannsen for being an excellent Evangelist, and Thomas Hobbs for his fabulous “Zerschmettert mich” aria (one of the arias that is not in the better known, 1724 version). Donate to the Netherlands Bach Society here.

If you don’t feel like listening to any Passion music anymore, please find my three Easter blog posts from previous years through the following links:

Bach’s Easter in Weimar, 1715

Bach’s Easter in Leipzig, 1724

Bach’s Easter in Leipzig, 1725

Wieneke Gorter, April 3, 2021.

Something to look forward to

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Since January 2020, when I heard that Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent were recording BWV 45, 118, and 198 with my favorite soloists, I have been eager to listen to that new album, “Meins Lebens Licht.” The release date, March 19, is now almost here, and there are some excellent previews available that I would love to share today.

There is a wonderful “making of” video of this CD recording. Find it here. In this video, soprano Dorothee Mields and bass Peter Kooij talk about how much working with Herreweghe means to them, you see a glimpse of how Herreweghe works with his choir and orchestra, and … you get to hear the exhilirating opening chorus of Cantata 45 in its entirety, part of the beautiful motet “O, Jesu Christ, Meins Lebens Licht,” and several excerpts of the choral movements of Cantata 198. Some of my all-time favorite music, performed by some of the most sensitive interpreters of this repertoire today: it’s a bit of heaven for me.

On the record label’s website, you can hear a bit of each track. Find that here. If you like all of this, please consider supporting the artists by pre-ordering this album. That way you can also start listening right away on March 19. Pre-order here on iTunes, or here on Amazon.

Wieneke Gorter, February 27, 2021

How this blog came to be and other stories

There is no cantata for this Sunday, since Bach didn’t write any cantatas for Lent. So I thought maybe it would be nice to share some background stories I wrote over the past years that aren’t related to any specific cantata, but might be unknown to those who subscribed to this blog after January 2018.

I started writing this blog in January 2016, as a tribute to my mother, and have now published 180 posts. In 2018, I explained how the birth of my blog was prompted by a broken dishwasher. You can find that story here.

To learn more about Bach and his cantata compositions, read my post about Bach in Weimar, my post for California Bach Society’s blog about Bach and his musician friends in Weimar, and my post on this Weekly Cantata blog about Bach in Leipzig. Also find a virtual tour through Bach’s Leipzig, provided by the Bach Archives in Leipzig, here, and a terrific documentary about Bach’s entire life here.

If there is anything you’d like to know more about or have questions about, please let me know in the comments below, or send me a direct message on Instagram or Facebook.

Thank you for following this blog!

Wieneke Gorter, February 20, 2021.

Herreweghe live from Antwerp

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Philippe Herreweghe at the Bach Academy Bruges, photo by M.Hendrickx

On January 31, 2021, Philippe Herreweghe and his Collegium Vocale Gent performed three cantatas at the beautiful concert hall “De Singel” in Antwerp, Belgium. In my humble opinion, this was a very moving and inspired performance, and my hat is off to everyone on stage, that they were able to find this energy and inspiration in Bach’s music, in the texts, and in making music together, because they were performing without an audience. Please find the live video recording here on YouTube. Soloists are Dorothee Mields, soprano; Alex Potter, alto; Guy Cutting, tenor; and Peter Kooij, bass.

I provide a bit of a review and a bit of a listening guide here, with links to my blog posts from previous years about these three cantatas. I did not grow up with any of these cantatas, they weren’t part of the repertoire my mother played on the turntable at home. I learned about them in the process of doing research and writing for this blog (and through other people, in the case of Cantata 127).

Cantata 127 Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott

This cantata, written for today, the last Sunday before Lent, is a great choice for the start of a concert, because it immediately grabs you and draws you in. I already hold a special place in my heart for this music because of the soprano aria (beautifully sung here by Dorothee Mields) being performed at my mother’s funeral service in The Hague in 2010. But even without that, the work is in my all-time top 10. And I am not alone: Bach biographer Spitta called it “perhaps the most important” cantata, and it received “the most beautiful” qualification by Arnold Schering as well as Ton Koopman.  

The cantata is part of Bach’s 1724/1725 cycle of chorale cantatas, and compared to all previous compositions in that cycle, this opening chorus is the most complex and intricate. Click on the link at the end of this paragraph to read why. I love hearing Collegium Vocale sing this. Dorothee Mields and Peter Kooij are fabulous in their arias, and I enjoy hearing and watching tenor Guy Cutting sing. He’s a new star in the Herreweghe firmament. The soprano aria is of course stunning, but what about that bass aria? Whether a foreshadowing of the St. Matthew Passion or a dramatic end to the series of chorale cantatas, Bach had clearly made “studies” for it in his previous three cantatas of that year. Read all about it in my blog post from 2018.

Cantata 138 Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz

I am so happy with the video recording from January 31, because it eliminates a dilemma for me. When I first wrote about this cantata (written for the 15th Sunday after Trinity in 1723), I wasn’t able to choose between Herreweghe’s recordings from 1992 and 2013, but I feel the video recording from this year is the clear winner! I love the inspired singing by all four soloists, but find Alex Potter’s singing in this cantata especially stunning. In his recitative (starting at 26:23), the combination of his understanding of the text and what he can do with his voice moves me deeply. So much that when the choir basses then follow with their beautiful entrance, I am close to tears. If you feel I’m getting too sentimental here, don’t worry. My blog post from 2016 is about completely different things: a European children’s animation, a possible, “movie script scenario,” explanation of the relatively simple text in this cantata, and Bach’s recycling of the bass aria.

Cantata 161 Komm, du süße Todesstunde

What a wonderful surprise that Herreweghe included this cantata (written for the 16th Sunday after Trinity but also for the Purification of Mary/Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, which was February 2) in this program. It is such a beautiful and moving composition. In my blog post from this past fall I could only describe how in 2019, when programming the All Souls program for the Netherlands Bach Society, Alex Potter had the brilliant idea to combine the recorders from the Weimar version of this cantata with the sung chorale Herzlich tut mich verlangen nach einem sel’gen End from the Leipzig version. What a delight to see that Herreweghe had adopted this exact idea for this performance in Antwerp, and that we can thus hear and see Alex Potter and Dorothee Mields perform this opening movement together. I love all the singing and playing in this cantata very much, but for me, the tenor aria can’t rival the magic of Shunske Sato accompanying Thomas Hobbs in those All Souls concerts by the Netherlands Bach Society in 2019 (as described here).

Wieneke Gorter, February 13, 2021.

Again, four posts in one

Jesus healing a leper by Jan Luyken. Etching from a Bible printed in 1712 in Amsterdam.

For this third Sunday after Epiphany, Bach wrote four cantatas, and again I have written about all of them over the past years. I still stand by all my recommendations for recordings, so I’m just going to refer you to the old posts. Please find all the links below.

Unlike last week, this time you won’t find four different paintings of “Jesus healing [or cleansing] a leaper,” the Gospel story for this Sunday, because I seriously have only been able to find two paintings over the years: the one I used in my very first post from 2016, and the one I’m including in this post. I can find several illustrations of “Jesus healing ten leapers” (which is a different story), but not of this story. So if any of you knows of a painting somewhere, please let me know. (I prefer 17th century or older, because I’d like it to depict imagery that Bach would have been familiar with).

Cantatas 72 (at least partly from 1715) and 73 (from 1724) can be found in this post, Cantata 111 from 1725 in this post, and Cantata 156 (from 1729) in this post.

Wieneke Gorter, January 23, 2021

Second Sunday after Epiphany

The Marriage at Cana by Jacopo Tintoretto, 1561. Oil on canvas. Sacristy of the Santa Maria della Salute, Venice.

For this Sunday, the second Sunday after Epiphany, Bach wrote three heart-wrenchingly beautiful cantatas, all more or less focused on the Gospel story of the day: the Marriage at Cana. But none of these cantatas are festive.

In Cantata 155 Mein Gott, wie lang, ach lange from 1715 (and performed again during Bach’s first year in Leipzig, 1724), Bach illustrates the hand-wringing and desperation expressed by Jesus’ mother Mary in several different ways, including a Monteverdi-like “lamento bass.” Read it in my blog post from 2017, titled Mary’s Lament.

Cantata 3 Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid, from 1725, takes up a special place within Bach’s 1724/1725 chorale cantata cycle, because the chorale melody appears in the bass part of the opening chorus. It gets doubled by a trombone, and this makes it “good kind of stomachache” music for me. There are not many things better than a Bach opening chorus with trombones. But much more is happening in this cantata. Read it all in my blog post from 2016, titled Hidden messages.

I wrote about Cantata 13 Meine Seufzer, meine Tränen only last year, and found out that Bach must have been inspired by Cantata 155 when writing this one. Read it here.

If you have been following this blog for a while, and have thus already read all these posts, I have two interesting news items for you:

Two young Early Music musicians, Anne Charrier and Ben Kazez, came up with a useful project to pass the months and months of performance-free life. They hand-catalogued 1,699 movements from J. S. Bach cantatas, put the entire database on a website, and gave it a nifty search feature so you can find for example all arias for soprano and oboe, that one tenor aria that was about “Jammertale” (if you are as nerdy as me), or … all opening choruses with trombone :-). Find it here.

David Chin of Bachfest Malaysia compiled his part documentary, part travel show Encountering Bach series and some extra video material into one longer movie. I highly recommend this! The story is now in chronological order, which is helpful I think. It’s a wonderful way to virtually travel to all the Bach towns in Germany with some excellent guides! The movie takes you through Bach’s life and his works from his birth in Eisenach through the last 27 years of his life in Leipzig. Find it here on YouTube.

Wieneke Gorter, January 16, 2021.

Third Christmas Day

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Winter on the Holterberg, the “local hill” in the region where I lived from age 6 to 16.

For me, December 27 is always the Third Christmas Day , whether it falls on that other cantata day, the Sunday after Christmas, or not. In the Netherlands, where I grew up, there are two days on which people celebrate Christmas: December 25 and 26. Special meals are eaten on both days. And because the country is so small, you can visit one part of your family on the 25th and then see the other part on the 26th. Most relatives expect you to do this. So, when I was a child, Third Christmas Day was always our first “free” day during the Christmas break, without church visits, meal prep, having to dress up (even though I liked that), or commitments to family.

We had a standing arrangement with friends for this day: if there was enough snow on the ground, and if we were in town, we would go cross-country skiing together on the only hill in our region. It was a half-joke, because the Netherlands isn’t very snowy, and it would take an extraordinary winter for there to be enough snow on the ground for cross-country skiing. When I was 16 we moved away from that region, so it maybe happened only once that we actually did this together with the other family, but just the idea was fun, and it didn’t feel like something we “had” to do to any of us.

This was a long introduction to justify why I am sharing a cantata for Third Christmas Day on this blog today, when I should be sharing cantatas for the Sunday after Christmas instead, as that day officially overrides the other.

Ever since I found out this video of Cantata 133 Ich freue mich in dir (I rejoice in you) existed, on November 1st of this year, I had been planning to share it today. It features two absolutely gorgeous tender arias by some of my favorite soloists and the wonderful ambiance Concerto Copenhagen always manages to convey in their Christmas videos. So here your are: Cantata 133 Ich freue mich in dir, written in 1724, by Concerto Copenhagen, from their 2011 Christmas concert, starring Alex Potter in the alto aria and Maria Keohane and her beautiful berry-red dress in the soprano aria. Find the video here, the text and translations here, and the score here.

Cantatas for Third Christmas Day have all been discoveries for me since I started writing this blog. None of these were cantatas my mother played on the turn table at home, probably for two reasons: 1. It was the day for the third cantata from the Christmas Oratorio (and this one was my sister’s favorite); 2. After playing the one cantata, we were usually off doing other things afterwards (see above), and my mother must have felt the “freedom” of this day too.

I will take a break for the next two weeks, and not post again until Sunday, January 17. Our first-born is flying the nest exactly two weeks from today, to go live on a college campus on the other side of the country, and we won’t see him in person again until May. So I would like to spend my time these next two weeks cooking, hiking, and laughing with the family, and helping my son get ready.

Here are some links for further reading and listening during those two weeks:

More cantatas for today:

Cantata 151 Süsser Trost, mein Jesus kömmt, written for Third Christmas Day in 1725. I recommended the performance by Maria Keohane (wearing a white and gold Christmas dress) with the Netherlands Bach Society in my post from 2019. Find it here.

Cantata Cantata 122 Das neugeborne Kindelein, written for the Sunday after Christmas in 1724. In addition to recommending the Herreweghe recording, in my blog post from 2017 I share my research as to why the word “Jubeljahr” (Jubilee) appears in this cantata.

Cantata 64 Sehet, welch eine Liebe hat uns der Vater erzeiget, written for Third Christmas Day in 1723. I recommended the recording by Harnoncourt and Bach Collegium Japan in my post from 2016. Find that here.

Or watch the cantata for the Third Christmas Day from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio following my links in this post.

Cantatas for New Year’s Day:

Watch the fourth cantata of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio by the J.S. Bach Foundation. You can find it here. The fourth cantata is my favorite part of the Christmas Oratorio, and soprano Miriam Feuersinger is absolutely fabulous in this performance.

Read my blog post from 2017 about Cantata 41 Jesu, nun sei gepreiset. Or explore on your own: Bach wrote several other cantatas for this day which I haven’t discussed on this blog yet: BWV 190 in 1724, BWV 16 in 1726, and BWV 171 in 1729.

Cantatas for Epiphany:

Read my very first post on this blog, from 2016 (apologies if some of the links don’t work anymore), my post from 2018, Or watch the last (6th) cantata from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio following my links in this post.

Thank you for following this blog! “See” you in three weeks.

Wieneke Gorter, December 27, 2020.